Pera Thai

November 01st, 2006  | Category: Restaurants

Pera Thai

I am mad about Thai food. Unfortunately, there are not that many Thai restaurants in Istanbul. In fact, there are not that many restaurants representing other countries’ food in Istanbul. I am pretty sure some Turkish people will disagree, but my bar is high. I am not counting some street corner/all touristic Thai or Indian restaurant located in Sultanahmet area with distasteful shop sign boards. And I am not counting world renowned chefs visiting five star hotels for a limited period of time. I demand authenticity coupled with fresh ingredients, pleasant decor and consistency. I demand an abundant number of restaurants for each cuisine. Hell, I also demand cheap (but still tasteful) versions for take out. But who’s listening?

Pera Thai is the best (and possibly the only decent) Thai restaurant in İstanbul. It is located in Beyoğlu adjacent to the old US Consulate. The restaurant is almost always packed during dinner time. Back in the old days, when the US Consulate was operating in the next building, it was also packed during lunch hours.

I visited this place many times in the past, but to tell the truth, I was never hooked. I recall some of the dishes being very good, some OK and some – well – mediocre. But my last visit definitely got me hooked. The day we visited the restaurant was a national holiday and it was 4 pm. So me and my friends were the only table to be served… Nice!

Pera Thai - Chicken Satay

The choice for appetizer was quite obvious for me: Chicken Satay. The satay sauce was too crunchy for my taste but other than that the dish was wonderful. Then came their killer pad thai followed by chicken in yellow curry and beef in red curry with kafir lime leaves. We finished it off with fried banana and ice cream. Even though I experienced some consistency problems in the past, I can not recommend this restaurant more. It is clean, modern with wonderful attentive staff. Just try to avoid the 9 pm crowd and have your dinner early on.

For more information, you can visit their website.

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  1. 1 - Zeynep Seda on November 1st, 2006

    Cenk you are so right about this subject! I adore Chinese food and don’t know where to find delicious Chinese when we move back to Turkey 🙁 We are always talking about opening an Oriental restaurant with decent prices and delicious food but owning a restaurant is quite hard job! Maybe we will one day…

  2. 2 - Cenk on November 1st, 2006

    Hi Seda – Speaking of Chinese food, the best take out I had in Istanbul so far is called Little China located in Bebek. If you ever visit in the near future, I definitely recommend it.

  3. 3 - Burcu on November 2nd, 2006

    Cenk, this is excellent news! I am crazy about Thai food, too. Thanks for the post. Next time I’m Turkey, I’ll check that out.

  4. 4 - Basak on November 7th, 2006

    Are you sure with Asian food? Of course I am kidding but..

    In Turkey you have got the best cuisine in the World. You won`t even need that.
    I was in Paris last two months and if you know Paris you may imagine how many Asian restaurants are there. I find more JAP-CHI-THAI restaurants each time I go there… And instead of eating escargots what you can eat? Ok, this may also be exagerated : )

    At the end, as usual, I miss Mediterranean food..

    ps: Found a new Corsica Restaurant where you can eat BROCCIU!!! Remember that?

  5. 5 - Cenk on November 7th, 2006

    Hi Basak – How can I forget? See, you can find even a Corsica restaurant over there (let alone a decent Thai restaurant). I am very fond of our own cuisine but I also crave Asian and Indian food a lot. There are a few good Japanese restaurants here, but this city definitely lacks Chinese and Thai restaurants. Or maybe it is me.. I see people quite happy with modernized chinese cuisine for instance at Chinese in Town, but having tasted dim sum at a restaurant like Ton Kiang (San Francisco) it is a bit harder to fool me.

  6. 6 - Zeynep on November 14th, 2006

    Thanks for this tip… hmmm… lemongrass… hindistancevizi… peanut… ama bu şehirde bir yerden bir yere gitmek, her ne kadar lezzetli bir nedeniniz olsa da, tam bir eziyet… o yüzden, özellikle de Anadolu yakasında çalışan ve oturan bizler CiT ile avunuyoruz 🙂

  7. 7 - Jochen on April 21st, 2008

    Ohh I have been to this restaurant and the food is very yummy there. They also have a Thai cook thats why the food just taste soo good.
    I been there last year with my Thai mom and her Thai friend and we enjoyed it very much =)

  8. 8 - Izati on September 19th, 2008


    “In fact, there are not that many restaurants representing other countries’ food in Istanbul.I am pretty sure some Turkish people will disagree, but my bar is high.”

    I certainly agree with that! The mark of a cosmopolitan city is when you can get GOOD international food at street prices. I won’t say Istanbul has a long way to go – things are changing. Oh by the way I heard CokCok is a worthy shot, and it’s just up the street from Pera Thai.

  9. 9 - Izati on September 19th, 2008

    oops, just noted your verdict to CokCok. Keep hunting!

  10. 10 - Cenk on September 19th, 2008

    Izati – I also had high hopes when I first visited CokCok, but the food and service was way below average. I believe in visiting a restaurant at least three times before one can fairly review the food and service but my first (and only) experience was so horrible I don’t think I’ll go there ever again (or recommend it to people for that matter). My order arrived in 2.5 hours. Friends shared some of their appetizers, but come on… Whenever I asked the waiters when the food was coming, the answer was always the same: (In 10 minutes sir). After an hour and a half later, I started laughing to the answer. It was a nightmare. On top of that, the food wasn’t good either. If you had closed my eyes, took me to CokCok, ordered those dishes and later asked to which cuisine it belonged, I would have never guessed Thai. This pretty much sums up my experience. That was years ago. Maybe they evolved. But I am not interested anymore.

  11. 11 - jade on December 10th, 2009

    hi cenk, i totally agree with you about missing good thai food. i also miss good & inexpensive indian, vietnamese & malaysian. after living in NYC & visiting these countries & honing my palate i am always craving authentic versions, but i am usually very disappointed in the offerings here in Istanbul. Pera thai so far has been the best, but i still found some of the dishes a little lacking when i went earlier this year. i suppose it is difficult to get the ingredients here? i also did not think the food was very good at cokcok. i thought spice market was great & same as the one in nyc, but it is so expensive. pls keep us updated on any good new ethnic eats in Istanbul!

  12. 12 - Cenk on December 10th, 2009

    jade – I’ve been to Spice Market a month ago. I was very impressed with a couple of dishes, but disappointed with some as well. Çokçok on the other hand is total disappointment. I don’t know why they even call it a Thai restaurant. I have one other recommendation for you: Zuma. It is as expensive as Spice Market, but everything there was delicious. It is located in Ortaköy. Very nice view.

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